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Bears’ Meriweather 
is a quick learner

LAKE FOREST – Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has been impressed with his newest player, two-time Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather.

Meriweather is listed as a second-string free safety on the Bears’ depth chart behind starter Major Wright. He likely will make his Bears’ debut Sunday.

“It’s just kind of week to week, really,” Marinelli said. “You get him in and everything is swimming. You’re throwing everything [at him].

“[He’s] a real smart guy. I think he understands everything we’re doing. But now it’s just the repetition of doing it. … We’re trying to get him up to speed as fast as we can.”

Marinelli said the addition of Meriweather was not a negative reflection of the team’s group of safeties, which includes Wright, Chris Harris, Craig Steltz and Chris Conte.

Support system: Linebacker Brian Urlacher said his longtime friend and teammate, Lance Briggs, would not be affected by a lingering contract dispute.

“He plays great,” said Urlacher, who has played with Briggs since 2003. “He always plays with that chip on his shoulder, ever since he was drafted. All those guys that went before him, hardly any of them are in the league now.

“Do I think he should get a new contract? Yes. Do I think he’s underpaid? Yes. But it doesn’t matter what I think, it doesn’t matter what he thinks, it matters what the people [in charge] think he deserves. That’s all that matters.”

Wait and see: Undrafted rookie wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher was one the Bears’ bright spots during the preseason, but it’s unclear how much playing time he will receive in the first few weeks of the regular season.

Quarterback Jay Cutler hinted that coaches might take a cautious approach.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Cutler said. “He’s definitely got enough talent to be out there. It’s a matter of him being able to catch up mentally with everyone else.”

Bears bits: Bears running back Marion Barber (calf) did not practice Thursday, and defensive end Corey Wootton (knee) was limited in drills. … Former players such as Steve McMichael and Otis Wilson will participate in a “Back to Football” pep rally this afternoon at Daley Plaza.

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